History records the rise and fall of many empires. The general story of most empires begins with the rise of a strong and energetic people who achieve wealth and prosperity by militarily overcoming weaker nations. In the process, the ruling elite gradually oppresses and enslaves the lower classes of society. After a period of time, the victors eventually become complacent because of opulent living and a decline in virtue. Finally that empire either collapses from within or is conquered by a stronger nation. This is the story of the ancient empires of Assyria, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome — all of which were ruled by autocratic individuals or regimes. This rise and fall has continued throughout history all over the world. Usually, the fall is preceded by spiritual decline, high levels of taxation, debauchment of the currency, and the rise of homosexuality among the ruling elite. Do we see this same historical process of decline in America today?
In ancient times, the degree of economic freedom which ordinary citizens were able to enjoy, in spite of autocratic rulers, was sometimes higher than today. Why is this so? It certainly wasn't because ancient rulers held ordinary citizens in higher esteem than their modern counterparts do today. No, not at all! For there have been political rulers in every age who have regarded citizens as nothing more than pawns to be moved about the chessboard of life and as "subjects" to be taxed and expended "for the benefit of the State" at the will of the elite.
Any greater economic freedom enjoyed by ordinary people in ancient times was simply because of a difference in the technology of control. Modern technological advances have certainly led to great rises in productivity and thus to a higher standard of living. But the use of high-powered computers today has also made it much easier for rulers to record and minutely keep track of citizens, and thereby to tax and regulate every aspect of their lives. Ancient rulers lacked the dangerous capability of having so much personal information about individual citizens, and so thus they also lacked the fearsome ability to care for citizens from the cradle to the grave, which has become a modern form of idolatry that has turned the state into a "secular god." It is also much easier today for central banks like the Federal Reserve to debauch the currency to rob citizens rather than using the slower and more laborious process of "clipping coins." So, from the aspect of personal economic freedom, there were some advantages to living in ancient times!
God blessed Israel when the people and their leaders walked faithfully in His ways, and He disciplined them when they disobeyed. America has been growing more unfaithful with each new generation, and it is ripe for a fall. In this essay we will consider periodic rises and declines in the people's economic freedom and welfare in Old Testament Israel and compare it to America today. I will state in advance the lesson to be learned: The economic and political welfare of a nation is largely determined by the faithful adherence to Biblical precepts by the people and their leaders (2 Cor. 3:17).
Blessings and Curses
Just before entering the Promised Land, Moses instructed the people:
[I]f thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, . . . [He] will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee (Dt. 28:1-2).
God promised that economic, cultural, and political blessings would result when His people faithfully adhere to His word. But He also promised that curses would come from failure to do so (Dt. 28:2-68).
Later, after God had given the Israelites all the land He promised them and had richly blessed them, Joshua told the Israelites:
[B]ehold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. (Jos. 23:14)
Then the Israelites entered the period of the Judges, a time when God continued to bless the nation richly, but "there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel" (Jud. 2:10). Time and time again the Israelites failed to follow God's Word. So God periodically punished them by raising up invaders to oppress them, especially economically and politically. But when they repented, God raised up deliverers to rescue them (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Tola, Jepthah, Samson, and Phinehas). Economic progress continued during the period of the Judges; it was Israel's growing economic wealth that enticed invaders to rob and oppress the Israelites. The gradual process of enrichment continued through economic development of the land. When the people again fell into spiritual declension because of corrupt leaders, they asked for a king like other nations. God told the prophet Samuel to give them their request, but to warn the people that the king would become tyrannical and abuse his power over them (1 Sam. 8).
Most of the kings who ruled Old Testament Israel were bad kings, except for a few in the southern kingdom of Judah. Even King David, who is noted in Scripture as a good king, ordered faithful Uriah to be murdered in an attempt to hide David's adultery with Bathsheba. King Solomon multiplied horses and wives to himself and heavily taxed the people, who later rebelled against Solomon's son Rehoboam when he refused to lower taxes. To accomplish the rebellion, God raised up Jeroboam as an intermediate magistrate to free the people from tyranny (1 Kin. 12:24).
My point in bringing out these facts about Old Testament history is to emphasize two crucial truths: First, in a nation's rise and fall, the spiritual faithfulness or rebellion of the leaders and the people is always both the forerunner and cause of what later occurs in the economic, political, and cultural spheres of life. Second, it is not safe for citizens to put trust in civil rulers because they, like all men, are also sinners (Ps. 118:9, 146:3).
This brings us to America today. It is quite evident that America has been in spiritual decline for many decades, dating back at least to the early 1900s, but really almost a century earlier. And many of our civil rulers have been in the forefront leading the way.
Tax-supported education came upon the scene in the 1830s under the leadership of Horace Mann, who was rabidly anti-Christian. Tax-supported education gradually became less Biblical with each succeeding generation until, today, it is openly anti-Christian. Tax-supported education is America's most ubiquitous experiment in outright socialism and is responsible for alienating each upcoming generation from their parents. Tax-supported educators, because they regard children as wards of the state, actively undermine parental control of children.
The Effects of War
Wars always generate results that ordinary citizens fail to foresee. The economic effects of war are always increased deficit spending, monetary inflation, subsequent rises in price levels, and oppressive government controls over individual citizens and business firms.
The War Between the States (1861-1865) served as an historical watershed that began to change our nation from a decentralized republic into an autocratic unitary state with centralized controls over the economy.
The Spanish-American War (1898) started our country down the road to international imperialism, which we see in its full martial array today. Public support for the war was gained by special interests in cooperation with an eagerly cooperative newspaper press.
Our political leaders lied to the American people to involve us in World Wars I and II. The Lusitania did indeed carry arms, contrary to the claims of the Wilson Administration. The U.S.S. Sussex, which Wilson claimed was sunk by German U-boats and which provided the proximate cause of our declaration of war on Germany, was never sunk. And President Franklin D. Roosevelt did indeed conspire with Churchill to induce the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which cost the lives of 2,900 soldiers and sailors. And during WWII, the American OSS (Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of today's CIA) paid Malaysian troops in the only currency they would accept, heroin. This developed eventually into the clandestine ferrying of thousands of tons of drugs into our country every year by the CIA to finance their covert activities, with the full knowledge and oversight of our highest-placed political leaders, including the White House. It produced at least two generations of drug addicts beginning in the 1960s and led to the perfidious "War on Drugs" program which has produced the widespread tyranny of "property confiscation" by the federal government under the RICO law.
Every subsequent war and foreign military involvement by the U. S. has been unconstitutional because of the failure of Congress to declare war. And each foreign military engagement that has followed has been based on lies told to the American people (Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, the First Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the Second Iraq War).
Congressman Ron Paul of Texas — a constitutionalist and free-market voice in Congress — had this to say on July 10, 2003 to the U.S. House of Representatives:
Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives . . . .
It is no secret, . . . how they gained influence and what organizations were used to promote their cause . . . they agitated for their beliefs through publications like The National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Public Interest, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary and The New York Post, . . .
The Defense Policy Board, chaired by Richard Perle, played no small role in coordinating the various projects and think tanks, all determined to take us into war against Iraq. It wasn't too long before the dream of empire was brought closer to reality by the election of 2000 with Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld playing key roles in this accomplishment. The plan to promote an "American Greatness" imperialistic foreign policy was now a distinct possibility. Iraq offered a great opportunity to prove their long-held theories. This opportunity was a consequence of the 9-11 disaster. . . .
. . . Let there be no doubt, those in the neocon camp had been anxious to go to war against Iraq for a decade. They justified the use of force to accomplish their goals, even if it required preemptive war….
Of course, a threat to us had to exist before the people and the Congress would go along with war. The majority of Americans became convinced of this threat, which, in actuality, never really existed. Now we have the ongoing debate over the location of weapons of mass destruction.
Where was the danger?
Was all this killing and spending necessary?
How long will this nation-building and dying go on?
When will we become more concerned about the needs of our own citizens than the problems we sought in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Who knows where we'll go next — Iran, Syria or North Korea?
It's of interest to note that some large Christian denominations have joined the neoconservatives in promoting preemptive war, while completely ignoring the Christian doctrine of a Just War. [T]he neocons sought and openly welcomed their support.
Neocons, anxious for the U.S. to use force to realign the boundaries and change regimes in the Middle East, clearly understand the benefit of a galvanizing and emotional event to rally the people to their cause. Without a special event, they realized the difficulty in selling their policy of preemptive war where our own military personnel would be killed. Whether it was the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin or the Maine, all served their purpose in promoting a war that was sought by our leaders.
What Should Christians Do?
What I have just written is already known by a very small number of readers, but it is highly "politically incorrect" to write about such things (John the Baptist was "politically incorrect" in his time!), so it will no doubt be quite shocking to most readers. But let me assure you that every bit of what I have written is absolutely true! For readers who would like to check on my veracity and do some interesting and enlightening reading on their own, I will send them, upon request, sources of information.
What can Christians do to correct the problems mentioned above and to restore our Christian Republic?
1. We can pray that the Lord will give us humility to change our minds when others show us to be wrong and to give us the fortitude to do spiritual battle with the forces of darkness that have been undermining our Republic for so long.
2. We can pray that the Lord, who is able to turn the heart of kings, will change the hearts of our political leaders. Failing that, pray that the Lord will remove them from office and from positions of influence and replace them with His godly people; or raise up intermediary magistrates under whom the people can rally to oppose the growing tyranny in our country.
3. We can pray that the Lord will protect and preserve godly intermediate magistrates like Judge Roy E. Moore and confound those who are attacking them.
4. We can be more observant in discovering the forces of darkness that are working to alienate our children from parents and to make them unknowing captives of secular, humanistic forces:
a) Take our children out of tax-supported school systems.
b) Remove television from our homes, or at least carefully shield children from the growing number of evil programs that promote feminism, homosexuality, humanism, statism, and international imperialism.
c) Develop a careful reading program for our children that will foster their spiritual discernment.Be sure to hold family Bible studies.
5. We can enhance our personal economic security and ability to be a beneficent influence in society by saving money instead of spending. We can invest in gold and silver, which will retain their purchasing power in the face of the inflationary and deflationary monetary policies of the federal government and the Federal Reserve. This will serve to increase the healthful influence of Christian savers in rebuilding the economy after the deflationary periods that inevitably follow credit bubbles.
6. We must not depend on the regular news media for truthful information because all such "news" is carefully designed to obfuscate instead of inform. Rather, we should rely on the internet, short-wave radio, and the few "alternative" publications and newsletters that try to present the truth that is carefully kept from the public (but be discerning). And we should oppose all government efforts to "protect the public" under the guise of "protecting children" from the evil that really is on the internet, because that government line is simply a clever ruse to gain control over all information available on the internet. Protecting children from the internet is a parental responsibility.
7. We must encourage pastors and elders to educate and inform their congregations about freedom, like the clerical "black brigade" did for their congregations in the pre-Revolutionary War period. We should encourage them to support homeschools and Christian schools.
8. We must discipline our children according to Biblical guidelines. Each new generation is always only one step away from spiritual chaos, which can be offset by careful spiritual instruction in God's law (Ps.119:97-104).
Remember that the Christian life has always been one of intense spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness. But don't despair; God is in control! We already have victory through Christ (Eph. 6:10-12; Ps. 2)!
© Tom Rose, 2003
- Tom Rose
Tom is a retired professor of economics, Grove City College, Pennsylvania. He is author of seven books and hundreds of articles dealing with economic and political issues. His articles have regularly appeared in The Christian Statesman, published by the National Reform Association, Pittsburgh, PA, and in many other publications. He and his wife, Ruth, raise registered Barzona cattle on a farm near Mercer, PA, where they also write and publish economic textbooks for use by Christian colleges, high schools, and home educators. Rose’s latest books are: Free Enterprise Economics in America and God, Gold and Civil Government.